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Major General John J. Pershing, U.S.A., Commander, American Expeditionary Forces, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters


                                        File No. 45/8/3

From: Pershing, Haef.                   Date 3.1.18

To: George Bartlett.1                  Number

Subject: Transports.                    Code Cypher.

Copies to: Comg. Gen. & Admiral Sims.

Referred for Action to:

Decoded by RT  :Typed by: GNB.2


Jan 3rd, Please deliver following to Admiral Sims without delay:

     With reference to directing our transports from their rendezvous to different ports of debarkation, it was understood, after consultation with Captain Jackson,3 that this could be done by you, but he now reports that transports carrying troops cannot be so handled and he does not seem at all sure about cargo transports. If we are not able to direct transports to the ports where men and cargo can best be handled then we are going to have unheard of congestion at the same particular ports or perhaps all in turn. It is going to be difficult enough even though our transports are well distributed, but we to have them brought to ports already congested is overlooking the probability of serious if not fatal delay in getting men and material to France. Not only does it result in delay in turn around of vessels but in congestion at the ports and on the railroads leading to the ports. If it is a question of shortage of destroyers for escort duty then I shall take it up with the departments at once. The matter is so serious and so vitally affects our success here that I cannot urge upon you too strongly the necessity of the utmost effort to assist us in eliminating our difficulty. Will you please cable me at once any suggestion you may wish to make?4 My dear Admiral I hope you appreciate the extreme urgency of immediate arrangements to expedite the handling of transports at this end of the line.


Source Note: TCy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B, Box 29.

Footnote 1: Brig. Gen. George T. Bartlett was on Pershing’s staff.

Footnote 2: Initials of unknown servicemen who translated and typed the document.

Footnote 3: Capt. Richard H. Jackson, the American liaison officer with the French Ministry of Marine.

Footnote 4: Sims’ reply to Pershing has not been found, however, he laid out his thoughts on the matter in a cable to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels of 9 January. See: Sims to Daniels, 9 January 1918.

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